Starbucks Opened a Location in Milan, and It Embraces Italian Design

There is undeniable mixed feelings about Starbucks opening its first store in Italy, where cafes serve their espresso much differently than the American coffee company. But it is obvious that the new Roastery in Milan—which opened last week—is different from its sibling stores in the U.S. All you have to do is look at the design.

Upon entering the 25,000-square-foot space that was once a central post office, customers glide across Palladian-style terrazzo floors set with multihued marble chunks. While the style might be widely recognized, the origin of the pink-hued Candoglia marble has a local meaning—it’s the same marble used in the city’s Duomo di Milano, according to Architectural Digest.

Speaking of marble, most Starbucks locations tend to avoid using marble counters because of its cold feel. However, the Milan Roastery embraces marble because of its valued reputation and use within Italian cafes across the country. But the Calacatta marble used in the new location has a hidden radiant heating system installed inside of it, raising the surface temperate a few degrees to physically project a warm, welcoming feel. And below the marble surfaces are the bars’ front wooden panels, fluted like classical Corinthian columns.

And there are other thoughtful touches that pay ode to Italian design, too, like the front wooden panels of the bars that is inspired by classic Corinthian columns. And the color palette of the Milan Roastery differs slightly than its American counterpart, steering away from the typical earth tones by incorporating pops of green and robin’s-egg blue.

This isn’t the first time Starbucks has adopted to another culture through design. The chain opened its first international Roastery in Shanghai this past December, which was “crafted as a veritable shrine to coffee” and immerses visitors through “sights, sounds, and aromas,” according to Starbucks. And with a plan to launch four other Roasteries around the world, this unique portfolio will most likely continue to grow.

However, while the design of the Milan Roastery is catering to Italian aesthetic, there are many elements that differ from its espresso-driven neighbors. For example, the espresso itself is being priced at double its Italian café counterparts that usually charges a little over $1, according to Forbes. Italians also tend to down their drink of choice quickly at a bar, but the Starbucks Roastery has set up a significant amount of tables where tourists can sit and drink their beverage instead.

Only time will tell if and how Starbucks will influence the coffee scene in Milan. But for now, at least we have its design to celebrate.

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